So why do I share this here, in the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour? Because if this change is possible for our gifted kid, who is so immensely sensitive to his world, and has struggled for years to cope with what the world throws at him (even the seemingly minutiae), then this change is possible for many others too - maybe even you and your child.
The keys to success? Time. Compassion. Empathy. Lots of love. Patience. And of course, hope. But as necessary as those things are, they are not enough on their own. They are only the beginning. We need supports; agencies, tools and strategies - and of course, friends and family! We also need a good understanding of giftedness as intensity, sensitivity, asychrony, and unique weave of pace, depth and complexity of feeling, thinking and learning,
For us, the biggest recent changes have come from two avenues, both of which have built on from the successes that have come from following interests, developing strengths, and living and learning in a place where he feels a sense of safety and belonging. All absolutely critical approaches to safety, belonging, empowerment, and growth.
The first of these, has been the use of the Safe and Sound Protocol, which initiates a rewiring of the brain to aid in a more appropriate response to environmental stimuli, decreasing the tendency for fight-flight-freeze. Even though the impact of this simple one-hour-a-day, week long music therapy takes time, within a few weeks we saw a happier child, who giggled at stories being read to him, wanted to try new things out, and was much more at peace with himself and the world. He was also much more able to communicate, with a significant decrease in characteristics of Selective Mutism in the months that followed on from the therapy. (On a side note, I used it too and the impact on decreasing my sensitivities to sound and being able to process with background sounds was amazing!)
With these changes already under way, our Child and Adolsecent Mental Health team was ready for our son to trial anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication. We are still on a journey with this. It’s early days yet. We held off for two years, but in hindsight, wish we had done it much, much sooner for the benefit it has brought him in being able to cope - and just as importantly, be kind to himself. Today he spoke his thoughts in front of nine family members who were all together to celebrate a birthday, a little hesitantly, but he did it. Something that simply would not have been possible even a few months back.
This is our miracle, a child who has found a sense of peace and enjoyment in life; one we wish for each and everyone of you who is sharing in this journey on a personal level. Between the SSP therapy, meds, and the strategies he is now able to learn because of these, we have a new child.
A child, who is truly coming out of his shell.
A child who is empowered to be all that he aspires to be.
Growing up multi-exceptional is hard. But if we can share our successes as a community, and be open about our journeys’ and the learning that comes from this to maintain a solution focused approach, we have a much greater chance of finding what will work for our kids. Keep reading, keep exploring, and keep trying new tools and strategies.
I wish you hope, from one whanau, to another.
Our sincere thanks go to Ali Peacock of Calming Minds Ltd. in Taupo for enabling us to access her SSP system.